We Survived!

I was actually writing this post earlier on generator power but the internet is flaky doing that.

In short, we’re alive. Power went out Sunday at 6pm, was back on briefly and then went back out again. The winds were going nuts, it sucked. I ended up hauling about half the useable wood for the stove up to the covered deck. Then the wood stove was hard to light because of the downdraft, then when we did get it lit the draft went the opposite way like a kid blowing across the top of a straw. It was burning through full loads of wood in three hours, which is bad since it normally plods through a full load in 6 to 8 depending on what we’re burning, in addition to me or my wife having to get up and refill the thing. Also because it was burning so fast the house climbed to mid-80s. None of this low and slow keep things at 65F or 70F. I had the air turned down all the way and the catalyst running and it was still rolling like I didn’t do anything.

To add insult to injury, the radon exhaust lost the cap, so the radon system was actually letting water into the basement on top of an already full sump well. I have to go buy another 4″ cap for the thing since I have no idea where it wandered off to.

My folks showed up with the Cabelas brand 3500W generator. Now this thing is awesome. I hooked up the fridge, the sump pump (which was up to the top of the well, so just in time), the radon system, but couldn’t hook up the heater (direct wired). The generator was running at about 35% load, so we decided to get crazy and start putting power strips on it. I then hooked up the laptop, two cellphone chargers (one acting as a wifi router to the 3G internet), and the entertainment center (TV, DVD, XBox, Wii). That drove the load up to about 40% to 45%. This thing puts out stupid amounts of power. I was seriously tempted to plug the oven and the microwave in but the microwave would account for fully 33% of the load it’s capable of (for however long its running), I decided not to push it since we had the wood stove on.

Now I really want the transfer switch. Any readers install one of these before?

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Morality in Religious Asceticism

The American Thinker was better when he was less personally invested in things but he still posts strong and interesting arguments. His post on Bidens Abortion Blarney is interesting to read but I would have actually called it Morality in Religious Asceticism.

I try to cut Biden a break with the Grain of Salt the size of a truck. He’s got mental issues. He’s clearly had a stroke or some sort of neurological problem recently. His kid had a stroke, and we know Joe Biden had an aneurysm, so we know the family isn’t running on all eight. We don’t know if he has had any subsequent health issues but judging from the uneven smile and the personality change in the middle of the debate (not the laughing, but the tone) I think it’s extremely likely. The sad part is that Obama (black, middle-aged, high stress job) is three for three for “likely to have a heart attack or stroke” so we could end up with two guys in office with brain damage.

That being said, Biden is pretty much the king of contradicting himself in the same breath, and you can hit up numerous political commentary websites for that. What particularly bothers me isn’t politicians being politicians but politicians ignoring morality. I think the American Thinkers post on Biden on Abortion sums it up nicely. Freedom is about maximizing the rights of the minority while preserving the rights of the majority. Liberty is about keeping to yourself and doing what you want so long as it doesn’t end up on the next guys lawn. Not only are these two distinct concepts, but they are inseparable in the vast majority of cases. It is freedom which would allow gays to marry, it is liberty when they get married. See what’s going on here? It doesn’t infringe on the rights of the typical Christian to allow gays to marry because the typical Christian isn’t gay. It doesn’t affect the liberty of the typical Christian when gays marry except in one very small instance – the official marrying the gays is party to the liberty of the gay marriage. See what Biden did? He’s claiming he’s a Catholic and following social doctrine but not “telling people what to do”. The problem is, if you’re gay, and you’re a Christian, the church isn’t going to marry you.

So lets apply this to a more extreme example per the American Thinker. If you’re a racist, you have the freedom of speech. You can say whatever you want. You have the liberty to say it – these are synonymous, but you do not have the liberty to discriminate. There are people in a purely libertarian environment who would argue that liberty = freedom and therefor they own a private business and they can tell whoever they want to fuck off. In some cases, this is actually true. You cannot sell a car to a 10 year old.

“Sure, because it’s codified in the law!”

Well that’s sort of the point. When it comes to abortion it’s not enough to say, “blah blah Catholic Social Doctrine” while discreetly beating off to a picture of Jack Nicholson as The Joker. Ryan’s answer is The Correct Answer. “This is the law and this the application of the law”.

What happens when we have an excess of freedom or liberty is injustice. Ironically, Obama sued Citibank for this very situation – he played the race card and while Citibank wanted the liberty to give everyone a shitty loan, it did not have the freedom to hand out loans under terrible conditions. Citibank drops the idea that things would be “more fair” if it was somehow compelled to hand out more loans and make more money and suddenly it’s vogue to make sure “everyone gets a loan”. Predictably, people who shouldn’t ever have gotten a loan are now given a loan in our “more fair” society and the whole machine explodes years later. Not hard to see why Obama was quick to shovel money into the bailout machine, it looks extremely bad to sue to compel a company to do something and then have that very something explode. It’s hush money. Rewinding the topic – why then should we compel the catholic church to marry gays? Gays have a freedom to get married, they are at liberty to be married, they do not have the right to be married in a church. That being said, there’s churches that will do it and honestly I think the message in the Bible to love one another and so these churches should do it – but that’s a personal view and probably more fit for another blog. The takeaway here is that it’s entirely up to the church, but they can’t bitch about gay marriage if we entirely secularize it. And we should, if not for the tax revenue.

Liberty stems from freedom, but where does freedom come from?

Freedom comes from protecting the rights of the few in the face of the rights of the many. The collective argument for this is “your right to throw a punch ends at my face”. The problem when you stop believing in the worth of individuals is that freedom suddenly stems from the whims of the majority. It’s dead simple.

That’s really what Biden is saying – “I don’t know where freedom comes from, so it’s just whatever most people want”. It’s a terrible way to run a country.

Joe Biden Undresses Paul Ryan (With His Eyes)

Random debate notes. I started playing the drinking game and it hit hard early.

I’ve pretty much decided by the end of the debate that Joe Biden was coached to laugh at whatever Paul Ryan said.

Here’s the problem: He’s laughing at the moderator, he’s laughing when Ryan is talking about foreign policy. Ryan says “Americans are dying” and Biden is smiling. Not a good place to chuckle.

I was particularly curious as to how people interpreted the phenomenon, so I started a poll. Go ahead and take it.

I was actually sort of worried that the moderator (who’s spouse works for Obama) wouldn’t be fair, I actually think she did a really good job.

I also think age is catching up with Biden – on the question of the “Bush Tax Cuts” (why not? we call the healthcare package “Obamacare”) Biden said he was not going to continue the cuts. While this makes economic sense in terms of reducing the debt and deficit, this doesn’t jive with the whole “save the middle class” message Obama is trodding. Then Biden points out “the opposition” is trying to “have a vote for the middle class tax cuts and have a vote for the upper class tax cuts”. Why not break it out to a separate vote?

One of the things that pissed me off about Ryan was he should have pressed the two level flat tax he proposed but it didn’t come up. It’s an interesting solution – if we make everyone decide what’s fair for everyone and fucking stick to it, things might be vastly different.

Also Biden just equated the turks with the saudis and jordanians. Some idiot is going to paste that into the foreign policy question. Ryan called him on it by pointing out who’s committed state sponsored genocide, but on the other hand Turkey provides the air corridor to the gulf. I happen to like Ryans stance in putting boots on the ground (“Only in the national security interests of the American people”).

The abortion question was a stinger for Biden – Biden had previously said he was 100% against abortion and justified that with the obvious “but it’s not my place to tell people what to do” (he is only the vise president after all). Delaware gets a C from NARAL, which gives it a firmly middle ground performance. Massachusetts gets a B. Biden listened to Ryan (again, whats with the laugh?), tries to frame Ryan for being against abortion (which he isn’t), then comes up with a bizarre quit about not telling Jews and Muslims what to do. Islam holds the same beliefs the Catholics (Christians) do. Jews are split down the middle as there’s no rabbinic guidelines on when life begins. As per usual, there’s no mention of third party religions or the “nones.”

The hilarious question at the end was “are you embarrassed at the tone of the debates?” Biden completely dodged it and jumped to closing statements, which is a reasonably solid plan for the debate structure but does nothing for his position. Ryan didn’t call Biden on the laughing, although I think I would have. Ryans closing statements (oops, I mean “tone of the debate”) summed the position up nicely, which was a Clintonesque “It’s the economy, stupid”.

Closing remarks were roughly the same as the tone of the debate question, clearly neither side was particularly interested in discussing it.

US Space Program: By Redbull

If you’re not watching the space jump live, you should be. It’ll take three hours to get to 120k feet, but once he’s there it’s going to be amazing to watch him fall back down to the ground. I’m hoping they’re filiming it in IMAX so we can watch it on the big screen. I also hope Felix brought extra batteries for his gameboy.

The elephant in the room is that Obama grounded all the manned space flights by cutting funding to the Constellation program. This was met with the whole “US Space Program: Brought to You by RedBull” meme which is fairly tragic. On the one hand I think it speaks volumes for the success of private programs over publicly funded programs. I even think it might pave the way for payloads being delivered to space on balloon. If they can make it to 10% the height of the ISS, why not knock 10% off the fuel tab by sending rockets up on balloons until they lose their ability to lift? If we get really crazy with the cheez wiz we could do it with hot air and not lose the balloon or fuel. Although burning liquid oxygen isn’t exactly a waste.

But there’s a point here – this is old NASA stuff, this is awesome H G Wells science fiction stuff. As a public program the entire thing stagnated. How much of the Felix and RedBull craft looks like old NASA stuff? Zero. It speaks volumes I think towards the stagnation of NASA. I don’t particularly think the funding should have been cut – NASA did bring us vapor layment processor construction and other really cool technologies. On the other hand I do think it needed a serious injection of brainpower, and if the private sector is doing the injection, then so be it. But that also means the government can go a the way it does now with aircraft and defense – it purchases resources from private companies to perform tax funded work.

A slightly more troubling question at this point is “What work does NASA do?” NASA had asked Obama to fund another mission to the moon (frankly I’m surprised they didn’t get it with how Obama treats money) and Obama said no and cut the funding for manned space flight. If NASA isn’t going to the moon, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper for companies to contract out to private firms and have them ferry their experiments and similar crap to space. Also unfortunately, now that we know what space is like because we’ve documented it so thoroughly, we can make things in the comfort of our own atmosphere without having to go to space. The whole vapor deposit technology can be done on the planet now that we’ve dumped the cash into building the stuff. High levels of radiation? Just hang out at a nuclear plant. Weightlessness to study perfect fields? We do it with magnets now.

Is there anything left for NASA to actually do in space?